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September 19, 2010

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I think the recent GC discussion regarding the ordination of deaconesses illustrates the unfortunate conflation of ordination and leadership roles. For many people, they understand ordination as being about specific leadership roles (i.e., if you are ordained, you are a pastor, elder, etc., and thus have a position of spiritual leadership within the body of believers) rather than being about the setting apart of an individual for ministry for a specific role which may or may not be one of leadership. Because of this conflation of two related but separate issues, some stand up to oppose the ordination of a woman for any ministry when in reality what they are truly opposed to is a woman serving in specific positions of spiritual leadership in the body of Christ.

Why do some oppose women serving in specific leadership roles? For some, I suspect, it is a cultural opposition. But for many others, they stand upon a biblical understanding apart from cultural forces.

I resonate very much with your comment. I think you have a good point that our views of ordination and leadership authority have been merged, thus causing us to be confused about the purpose of ordination.

Dr. Fortin I saw some of the confusion you talk about when I was ordained as a pastor earlier this year. I received two very different responses from those in attendance. Those new to faith asked "so I guess this means you're a real pastor now?" and those from an Adventist background - when I was introduced as "Elder" after the laying on of hands - said "I thought you were already an elder?" The Adventists were confused because I had to be ordained as an "elder" to handle the ordinances in my church district & church plant.

In your post you recommend a deeper study on the issue from a number of angles. In your understanding is it useful or even necessary for our church to embrace a label such as "Christian Egalitarianism"? I noticed recently that we are labeled as one of the proponents of this view on wikipedia over against chauvinism & differentiated from complementarianism? Wiki is obviously not where we should be getting our theology from! But it made me wonder.

To what degree should we give recognition to such labels in addition to the type of biblical & historical study you mentioned?

My only question is who ordains, man or God?

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Memory, Meaning & Faith is a blog covering Christian history in light of contemporary issues.

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